Over the last week in a few different classes I taught I had participants come up to me afterwards and compliment me on my looks. “Wow, you are so fit!”, or “Your arms are amazing!”. I always take the compliment and thank them but of course I always analyze things after the fact. I appreciate them providing someone a compliment as some women have a hard time outwardly expressing this towards other women. However, I can often tell when it comes from a place of insecurity within themselves and a desire to want to look like me (or whoever they are talking about at the time), vs. genuinely feeling good about themselves and offering a positive gesture. I recognize that even if we aren’t always in the best spot, compliments can be given; so at any rate, continue to share and lift other women up!
With two separate people I spoke with yesterday, the same topic came up: Sexualization of women in fitness. It is rare to catch me posing in a sports bra, small shorts, or angling a certain way to flaunt my body. I am by no means saying to cover up your entire body to exercise either; everyone should choose clothing that best fits their fitness needs and comfort level. But, with access to social media lately, it seems that the ones who get likes and attention are the ones snapping pictures in a more sexualized way. Coming from someone with over five years of fitness instructing and personal training experience and a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree, I often struggle to get my knowledge and expertise out to the world without changing the way I pose in photos. I always come back to the same debate. I constantly look at photos with similar messaging and compare the amount of clothing. Chances are, those in a sports bra get more likes than those with a shirt.
This is a tough topic, as putting other women down is not how I want it to be portrayed. I love to see people proud of their successes and accomplishments physically. It is exciting to see someone’s confidence flourish. And yes, this can most definitely be motivating for others. I am also by no means saying that ALL women who dress this way are uneducated in the field; but I have two thoughts on this. On one end, maybe those posing in such a way aren’t as confident and are seeking external validation? On the other end, it is preying on others who are insecure and makes them feel less valued, ashamed, and with the desire to have to look like the photo.
I strive to remind my clients to only make comparisons with themselves. It is only ever YOU vs. YOU. We are all at different places and therefore can’t ever make valid comparisons amongst each other. Someone’s chapter 10 in the gym is going to look and feel different than your chapter 2, or maybe they are similar, just with different lengths in each chapter. It is about an entire healthy lifestyle practice integrating the physical, mental, emotional, and psychosocial aspects. If you are motivated by someone else’s looks, instead of thinking “I want to look like that”, reframe into the thought of “they are dedicated to a fitness and health regime that I desire so I can be my best self”. Our bodies are all different and even if we all did the same plan, the end results would still vary.
I am really not sure where this leads to next. All I know is that I can control what I do, and I surround myself with people who have the same beliefs and values. On a personal level, my job is to take care of my body in the best way I can. But, on a professional level, it is all about my clients. Unleashing their potential and guiding them to be their best self beyond the gym.
Be fierce. Be strong. Be vibrant.
Check out Rachel's page on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Feel free to comment below with topics you would be interested in reading about in the future.